Your cat is a part of the family. That being said, you’ll want to make sure that whatever food your getting is the best choice for their health. However, with the numerous cat food brands out there, it’s easy to feel a little confused, and maybe even overwhelmed.
But have no fear! A healthy and nutritious diet for your favorite feline is easier than once thought. With these great tips from the pros, you’ll be sure to be the most informed next time you’re wandering the pet food aisle.
1. There’s Not One Best Kind of Protein
Being Carnivores, cats need animal protein, fat, and other vitamins and nutrients. Thankfully, they can get these from different sources, such as Royal Canin Cat & Kitten food, a great choice for your feline! Royal Canin Cat food has all the nutrients that your cat needs to stay healthy. Protein in many commercial cat foods can have animal “byproducts” that can come from a wide array of meats, such as beef, lamb, liver, or even fish! This makes sure that your pet is well-fed and happy!
Joseph Wakshlag, DVM, an associate professor at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, states that, for cats without any allergies, these ingredients, wet or dry, are great choices!
It’s also recommended that, instead of being concerned over specific ingredients, to look for a food’s nutritional guarantee. For Royal Canin Cat Dry Food, for example, we see that it supports the immune system, as well as digestive health to make sure your furry friend is digesting its food properly, making it a great choice for cat-owners everywhere!
As well as this, it’s recommended to look for tests by AAFCO stating that the product “provides complete and balanced nutrition”, or “is formulated to meet the nutritional level established by the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profiles.” If your kitty’s favorite kibble or treat doesn’t have these on the label, chances are it’s time to switch.
2. Byproducts Aren’t Bad.
A lot of cat food brands out there will boast their cat food, saying that it has “zero animal byproducts”, making it somehow healthier. These byproducts are ground-up parts of animal carcasses, such as necks, feet, and bone.
“But I’m actually a big fan of using byproducts,” Wakshlag says. “They have way more nutrients than straight meat. In chicken byproduct, for example, you’ll get things like vitamin A, vitamin D, zinc, and copper — instead of just the protein in a chicken breast.”
3. Even Carnivores Need Carbs.
Think your cat doesn’t need grains and other carbohydrates? Think again!
Sherry Sanderson, DVM, a veterinary nutritionist at the University of Georgia, states “But just because cats are true carnivores does not mean that carbohydrates are bad for them”. She’s seen a trend with low-carb diets for cats in the past 10 years, but she states that this isn’t the optimal choice. Low-carb usually means high fat, she says, which puts pets at risk for obesity and diabetes.
Yet another food myth that gets cat owners: Grains are just “filler” ingredients with no real nutrients. “Grains provide a lot of essential nutrients that both dogs and cats — and people — require,” Sanderson says.
And if you think that your cat might be allergic to grain, it’s important to remember that, while it is possible, it’s rare, and it’s much more common for your cat to be allergic to other products other than grain.
4. Different Ages Have Different Needs.
Kittens need docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a type of healthy fat that’s important for brain and eye growth. “If a product says it contains omega-3 fatty acids, look more closely to find out which type it contains,” Sanderson says. Plant-based omega-3s, like those in flaxseed, aren’t good sources of DHA, due to the comparatively small amount of DHA in them, when compared to animal protein.
For adult cats, Sanderson recommends foods that have fish oil — which give them DHA and also reduce inflammation — and probiotics, which feed their healthy gut bacteria. Cats also need different nutrients, like more fat, as they get older. When your cat turns 7, ask your vet if you should switch to a senior formula.
For those looking to switch to a senior formula, consider switching to Royal Canin Cat Food Urinary Support! This cat food brand is particularly great for your cats, as it not only helps support your pet’s urinary system, but it also has hydrolyzed proteins, which are great especially for older cats.
5. Higher Prices Don’t Mean Higher Quality
A lot of people tend to think that higher prices mean better food, but that isn’t always the case.
“If a company is making a lot of money but puts it all into advertising and none into research — or they tell consumers things like it is bad to feed byproducts or grains — in general, I don’t recommend those diets,” says Sanderson.
Thankfully, the FDA regulates all pet food, requiring brands to meet specific standards, for the food to be sold in the U.S.
However, Sanderson still warns against “cheap” brands as well. “I generally would stay away from really inexpensive food, because ingredients can vary in quality.”
6. You Could Be Feeding Fluffy Too Much
The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention states that about 58% of cats in America are overweight.
“Overeating is the number one problem we see in both cats and dogs,” Wakshlag says.
Wondering how much you should feed your cat? Try Royal Canin’s Cat Feeding Guide! This will tell you everything you need to know about feeding your feline, including how much you should give them per serving.
Still, have some concerns? Get advice from your vet on how much you should be feeding your pet every day, and check the food labels to ensure that your serving portions match your fluffy friend’s needs. It’s also highly recommended to split your cat’s meals in at least half, feeding them once in the day and once at night, to combat overeating.